Original 119 Ministries Article text is in BLUE. The rebuttal is in BLACK.
How many of modern evangelical church-goers are just going thru the motions of church and worship, feeling that something is missing or a general apathy toward worship and church? Far too many.
I will attempt to show that this apathy and emptiness is a result of the practices of the modern church which are in direct contradiction with scripture, and as a result; the Church is reaping a Curse.
Stephen was stoned to death because of False accusations of blaspheming the Temple and the Law.
Act_6:8 KJV And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
C.H. Spurgeon called by many – one of the greatest Preachers of the 19th century, preached extensively about the role of the Law in the Church:
“Now, what has our Lord to do with the law? He has everything to do with it, for he is its end for the noblest object, namely, for righteousness. He is the “end of the law.” What does this mean? I think it signifies three things: first, that Christ is the purpose and object of the law; secondly, that he is the fulfillment of it; and thirdly, that he is the termination of it.” Christ the End of the Law – A Sermon No.1325 Delivered on November 19th, 1876, by C. H. SPURGEON
Do Spurgeon’s statements align with Scripture?
The Bible is clear that Stephen was stoned because of False accusations: Act_6:13-14 KJV And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: (14) For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
The False witnesses said these things; Stephen never spoke against the Law, customs of Moses or that Jesus did away with the Law.
Stephen was falsely accused according to Acts 6. But what does that mean? That all of what the accusers said was false? A complete fabrication? Or was is very near the truth instead? We really cannot say for sure what Stephen said or did not say. If what he said was completely according to the customs and laws, what were they all upset about? If he wasn’t advocating departure from the law or customs of Moses, he should have never created a ripple at all. But, he infuriated them. So much so, they needed to kill him in order to keep him quiet. But, we don’t know exactly or actually what he said at all. All we have is his long speech which certainly infuriated those authorities who were willing to allow him to prove his innocence, those who asked him if what the false accusers said was true. The best lies are those that closely resemble the truth but change it slightly. So, to say Stephen never said any of those things, not only can we not say that (because the Bible does not give us what he did say) but that is not a likely thing at all. If is was such outlandish testimony, it would have been entirely ridiculous for anyone to believe. And further, if was so far from the truth, and if Stephen never stated anything like this in the first place, I ask again, what were they so upset about? More likely, Stephen said some of these or similar things, perhaps taken out of context or exaggerated, and they threw in blasphemy for good measure. Do we know this for certain? No, but we also don’t scripturally know for certain that he didn’t.
Paul was also falsely accused while in Corinth: Act_18:12-13 KJVAnd when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, (13) Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
Paul was again falsely accused at the Temple: Act_21:27-28 KJV And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, (28) Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
The verses in Acts 18 never say anything about Paul being falsely accused. They merely say the Jews rose up against him and brought him before a judgement seat. The assumption being made my 119 Ministries is that, because they believe Paul would not persuade men to worship contrary to the Law, Paul was obviously being falsely accused. However, it doesn’t say in Scripture that he was falsely accused at all. That is a very dangerous assumption to make when Scripture doesn’t indicate lying or misrepresentation of the facts in any way.
In Acts 21 Paul is also not necessarily falsely accused. They thought he brought a Greek into the temple, but beyond that, there is nothing in the text suggesting their other statements were lies at all. It is important to not assume things that are not there. And, while the text does seem to infer that Paul did not bring the Greek into the temple, there is not 100 percent clarity that he didn’t. Maybe they thought he did and maybe he really had. The text can read fine either way.
What the Bible recorded as the false accusations of Stephen and Paul; Spurgeon and all modern evangelical preachers have taken these false accusations and twisted them to be accepted as truth – and the basis for hundreds of denominations.
The Bible is very clear about such teachings: 2Pe_3:15-17 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him has written unto you; (16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable twist, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (17) You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
2 Peter 3:15-17 is very likely referring to what Paul himself cautioned believers on: grace. We have it, but why in the world would we misuse it and treat it as a license to sin? This is the biggest and most likely area for the undisciplined and unlearned to err. The unlearned & unstable are those who would take the scripture and make it say what they want to hear, i.e. that because we are freed under grace, we can do anything we want (true!), but the following is where they get it wrong: and so we SHOULD do anything we want! (not true!)
Also, this passage does not refer to teachers at all. This passage refers to those who are doing things leading to their own destruction, not to the destruction of others. However, their doing all manner of things can easily cause those around them to stumble and follow their wicked example. Still, referring to this text as a warning about “such teachings” is erroneous.
This is a warning to all believers, not to follow such teachings, or teachers. These same types of teachers are spoken of in Matthew: Mat_7:22-23 KJV Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Matthew 7 is entirely an interesting passage to quote in context of what 119 Ministries hopes to explain, i.e. that we are bound to the Law still. This passage indicated lots of “doing” and doing of “wonderful things.” These are external things, casting out demons, prophesying, doing wonderful works…things like the keeping of the Law which deals almost exclusively with external doings, sayings, and performances in the form of feasts & rituals. The problem Jesus had with this is it was devoid of relationship. He didn’t KNOW them. They were checking off their list and doing all the externals, but not even knowing the reason it was all intended in the first place…to know God, heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit and to share Him with others. Now, the Matthew 7 context applied to those of us who believe we are not bound by the Law, just doesn’t work. Supposedly we are not Law keepers anyway, so what good works would we even be TRYING to do? We live on grace like cheap wine…not really, but the point is that as being no longer under the Law, we have freedom to do or not do, but because the focus for those no longer under the Law is love, we are overwhelmed with the love of God and long to please Him, not with the old list, but with our hearts. We are not focused on doing, we are like Mary. Focused on being with and knowing Him. What is produced? Good fruit! The will of God. The will of God is not to be confused with the Mosaic Law. Interestingly enough, the phrase “will of God” or “God’s will” is only found in the New Testament and it often refers to things like going somewhere by the will of God or some specific person engaged in something which is of the will of God. Which Mosaic Law is that? It’s not. Instead, it is the will of a living, breathing God whose plans are being carried out present tense in the context of the New Testament stories. It’s like God making plans and those plans are His present will. So doing the will of God will be doing relational things which are hardly ever definable (in contrast to the highly definable Mosaic Law) and usually so minutely detailed they cannot be measured (like the Mosaic Law can) except by the intricately discerning mind of God.
Iniquity is an unfamiliar term to most of us. Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament terms defines iniquity as: “lit., “lawlessness” (a, negative, nomos, “law”), is used in a way which indicates the meaning as being lawlessness or wickedness.”
1Jn_3:4 KJV Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. When the modern church accepted what Spurgeon preached: “that he (Christ) is the termination of it (the
Law)” the Church has adopted the doctrine of iniquity – lawlessness.
Whoa there! 1 Jn. 3:4 in the more accurate translation NASB says it like this: “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. ” Where the KJV indicates THE law which I’m sure followers of the Mosaic law would plead actually indicates the Mosaic law, I would offer a look at this more literal translation and further look at the context of 1 Jn. 3. Love, love, love …at the conclusion of 1 Jn. 3, John makes clear what he’s talking about all this for: “23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” Clearly, 1 Jn. 3 refers to the law of love which we are now under, not the Mosaic Law. More about that later…
What is the logical conclusion to this lawlessness doctrine? Here is the logical progression of this type thought:
According to the New Testament, a lawless doctrine (in terms of the Mosaic Law) is actually the Law of Christ or the Law of Love (1 Cor. 9:20-22). Therefore, the progression of this is (in black):
1 Christ terminated the Law.
1. Christ fulfilled the Law.
2 We are under grace, only.
3 We aren’t under the Law.
3. We aren’t under the Mosaic Law; instead, the laws are written on our hearts and we live under grace.
4 Without the Law there is no Sin.
4. Without the Mosaic Law, sin is revealed in the heart of the indwelled believer by the Holy Spirit at the point of the sin’s inception.
5 Without Sin all things are permissible.
5. With grace, all things are permissible; but not all things are profitable.
6 All things are forgiven – we are under Grace.
This is borne out in the culture of the modern church:
• General disdain for families with over 3 children (the birthrate in the church is the same as the general population)
This general disdain is in the general American population, especially in those who live an urban, busy, career-climbing lifestyle. The church is made of all believing people, including those who feel this way.
• Segregation of families (nursery, children’s church, youth ministries, college ministries, young adults, senior adults)
Again, this is in our public institutions…schools, sports teams, classes, etc. It’s not at all isolated or created by the church. And again, the church is made of all believing people, including those who believe segregation is best.
• Children and youth who do not respect their parents.
Children & youth do not respect their parents because we live in a culture that encourages this. Is it in the modern church? Yes, because our modern churches are in our current culture.
• Youth ministries that supersede parental authority and go against scripture.
Most youth ministries strive to encourage parental authority and work hard to instill scripture and precepts into the youth.
• Teens and youth leaving the Church (over 85% of “church youth” who are college freshmen stop attending church)
They are leaving the church because of all kinds of reasons; the number one reason is because they are unbelievers. There was a fall and the fall has led to our current state, not the lack of following the Mosaic Law and being under the curse of God.
• Teenage promiscuity
• Out of wedlock pregnancies
• Couples choosing not to marry.
Again, problems in the church are because people in our current culture are in our current churches.
• Marriages that end in divorce. (the modern church’s divorce rate is Higher than Atheists)
I would contend that the marriage rate among Athiests might be much lower than those in the church, so it makes sense that their divorce rates might be lower. Pretty hard to divorce when you’re not even married.
• Church leaders with public moral failures… (Jimmy Swaggard, Jim Baaker, Ted Haggard, plus
hundreds, if not thousands of others that are not public)
Moral failure is the result of choices, not curses.
• Tolerance of homosexuality
• Embracing homosexuality
• Homosexual Marriage
• Homosexual Clergy from the Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian and other denominations
Homosexuality is not a curse, it is a result of the fall and is the result of worshiping the creature rather than the creator. In the church, we have sin because people are in our churches and people sin.
• Catholic Priests accused of molesting thousands of boys.
Again, moral failure is the result of choices, not curses.
If lawlessness is left un-checked it leads to Anarchy. – WordNet by Princeton University defines anarchy as:“lawlessness (a state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from a failure of government))”.
Joh_17:17 KJV Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus is praying to the Father, and prays for US to be sanctified thru the Father’s truth – His Word. At the time His Word was what we call “The Old Testament” the “New Testament” was years away from being penned.
If “His Word is truth” how could Jesus do away with any part of it? If we do away with the truth what are we accepting? Untruth, Lies. Does The Father or Jesus ever accept Untruth? No. Could they accept lies?
In Jn. 17:17, Jesus is not at all referring to the Mosaic Law. He is referring to that which He spoke while He was on earth, that which He gave to them…Jn 17:13-14a says, “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word;” He was also very likely referring to Himself as the Word as this is the Gospel of John which begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Mosaic Law is part of the Word, it is not the whole Word. And as much as it has originated from God, it is limited by both the language through which it is expressed and by the finite minds of those who attempt to understand the Word of an infinite God. The Word only becomes synonymous with God when they are interpreted by God. But this I mean the indwelling Teacher. Without the Living Spirit, the letters lie stale on the page. That is why the written law can contain “Do not murder”, yet Jesus while He was on this earth was able to come along and “change” it to include being angry at your brother in your heart. But did He actually change it? Not at all. It never meant ONLY “Do Not Murder”, it always meant not being angry at your brother in your heart as well. However, to communicate this required a living God to be present with us to address it on a heart level. Fast forward to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…He is now able, since we no longer are under the Mosaic Law, but are now under the Law of Christ or the Law of Grace, to take the always-intended law of LOVE and teach us on a personal level what it means to obey Him. But our obedience is not to a list or system of laws, it is to a Person whom we love because He has loved us. Out of that love, we will obey His will…present tense, for this moment, in the current culture.
Pro_28:4 KJV They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Pro_28:9 KJV He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
What else does Scripture have to say about ignoring the Law?
Deu_27:26 KJV Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Deu_28:15 KJV But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
Deu_28:41-46 KJV Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. (42) All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume. (43) The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. (44) He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. (45) Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: (46) And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
Joh_7:49 KJV But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. By adopting a “grace only” doctrine, the church has forsaken the warnings throughout scripture and is
reaping the curse.
Gal. 3: 10-14 makes is clear that we are no longer under the law and no longer under a curse, for those who are in Christ: “10 For as many as are of the works of [o]the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified [p]by [q]the Law before God is evident; for, “[r]THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 [s]However, the Law is not [t]of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE [u]BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A [v]TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might [w]come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.10 For as many as are of the works of [o]the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified[p]by [q]the Law before God is evident; for, “[r]THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 [s]However, the Law is not[t]of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE [u]BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A [v]TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might [w]come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Isa_5:20-24 KJV Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (21) Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (22) Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: (23) Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! (24) Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, sotheir root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Woe unto the Modern Evangelical Church!
Woe to the one who is found outside of Jesus Christ…Gal. 3:24 shows the relationship we now have through Jesus Christ alone: “24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a [ai]tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is [aj]neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you[ak]belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s [al]descendants, heirs according to promise.”
Deu_11:26-28 KJV Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; (27) A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: (28) And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
Again, read carefully Galations 3 and you will see we are no longer subject to the Law or the curses once associated with disobedience to that Law.
Ask yourself the hard questions. Ask others. Ask the Word. Test your faith. Challenge yourself. Test everything.
The rebuttal is concluded.
Here are other thoughts to consider regarding the Law of Moses:
This interpretation that followers of Jesus must still obey the Mosaic Law is the skeleton on the outside. With the tearing of the veil, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we now have the skeleton on the inside. The law is moved from externals to internals. Complete with the Teacher to interpret every nuance tailored for the understanding and implementation of the written-on-the-heart law….NOT for the sake of everyone doing exactly the same things, performing the same “commands”, but for everyone to be conformed to the image of the one true God, Jesus Christ.
No two people are the same. My struggles against self look different than yours. What it takes to conform me to the image of God may be something that would lead you astray. That is why the laws are on our hearts now with the Teacher internal to teach them. And just as another facet to wonder about in this great mysterious indwelling of God, maybe the fact of the Word being God and the law being part of that Word, maybe the indwelt Teacher is teaching us about himself, and how to walk and talk and think and feel and do, just as he himself would in every moment of our current lives.
Another look. The Mosaic law, given at a time where, in general, the Holy Spirit was also external (not indwelling people), the laws were truly external. They were a skeletal framework for how to live. However, as unindwelled people would do, they would find the loop holes. And this is how it might proceed:
My children know they are not permitted to hit one another in anger. However, my boys developed a game where it was the object to hit one another for fun. Inevitability, one child hit too hard and then it was no longer a game. So, I, the parent made another rule: no hitting for any reason, including for fun. They then proceeded to tag each other, which I then also outlawed. From there, they went to touching each other, which I then also outlawed. Now, do I really mean for them to never physically touch each other? No. In this particular case and in this particular setting, that is what was required to have them treat one another well.
For every rule I gave, they found a way around it. Why? Because their HEARTS were bent on disobedience. What I really wanted them to do is just to love one another and treat each other with kindness. But the only way to communicate that to them externally, was to legislate external behavior to achieve some sort of kind behavior. However, these rules did nothing to train their hearts to love each other. To do that, I would need to get inside their hearts to the inner workings and divulge the wideness of loving behaviors and attitudes and the many nuances that can shift slightly to make love the outcome.
If later, I come back to them and suggest one son hug the other, am I changing my rules? My character? My intent? Not at all! You see, it was never my intent that they should refrain from touching each other. My intent all along was to teach them to love each other. Did I err in my words by telling them not to touch each other? Was I confused? Again, not at all! My words/commands were specific & intentional with the specific goal in mind of producing loving behavior in my sons.
If it failed, was there a flaw in my commands? Were they incomplete or inaccurate? No, the flaw lies in the hearts of the sons who obeyed the letter of the law but completely missed the spirit.
If only there were a way to communicate heart to heart, to teach from the inside out…
This is exactly what Jesus did in the person of the Holy Spirit. First he paid our way for us to be restored in relationship to him; then, having cleansed us so we were fit to be indwelled, he internally teaches us not, do not taste, do not touch, but love God and love your neighbor as yourself….to each person individually.
Jesus did not spend long discourses discussing the details of the law; He talked much of the heart and of loving God and loving others. As God-with-us, He explains his always-intended spirit of the law…no longer is do not commit adultery sufficient, now it is not lusting in your HEART. That place where only God can see and know and where He has written his always-intended law. So no longer do we hear the external commands ringing through our beings, we hear a much simplified, much personalized law. The law of Christ. We are like the sons who are no longer required to “not hit, not tag, not touch.” We are taught something for that moment in that moment by the indwelling Teacher and we can choose obedience or not. And no longer do we all have an external, measurable standard…
The problem we have with this is that God does not include us in his reasoning for his timing. It happened, in the fullness of time. It seems unfair to us that we should happen to live in this time of the indwelling with such privileges, while the non-indwelt Hebrews had to work so hard to keep every miniscule letter of the law. Since we cannot find the justice in that, we use our minds to conclude that surely we are also then required to still follow the external rules. We must not taste, touch, handle. We must not hit, tag, or touch. That is required. Only, that was never what was required…instead it was always meant to be a law of love. Loving God and loving others. Internally taught by the Word himself.